The following material is from the 1973 Initial Inventory of Historic Sites and Buildings in Kalamazoo and was made available for use here by the Historic Preservation Coordinator of the City of Kalamazoo. See Introduction to an Initial Inventory for details about how the survey was conducted.
Edmond S. Rankin, one-time Mayor of the city, came to Plainwell with his parents in 1870 when he was nine. His father, Dr. John Rankin, served as physician and druggist there and in Richland for the rest of the century. His brother Charles turned to the practice of medicine in Grand Rapids, but Edmond, after schooling at Carrier Seminary, Clarion, Pennsylvania, returned to Kalamazoo as a clerk in William Clark's dry goods establishment. He soon joined with C. C. Brownson in his own firm. At twenty-nine, he and his wife and three step-children moved to a fashionable new home at 629 W. South - a home he would occupy for the rest of his life.
He built his home in 1890 according to the fashionable Queen Anne style of the day. Basically "L-shaped" with projecting gables and a central dormer breaking through the narrow hipped roof, it presented colorful patterns of narrow siding, shingles and contrasting trim. Across the front stretched the popular veranda and entranceway of the period. End-on to the street and accented by low beds of shrubbery, it offered a more modest appearance than its size warranted.
C. C. Brownson eventually moved to California and Rankin established himself in the insurance business by 1899. Kalamazoo's voters elected him Mayor for a term in 1901; and he continued to be well-known in state business and Masonic circles. During World War I, he became a Vice-President and Secretary of King Paper Company and served as a director when that firm merged with Allied Paper.
Rankin passed away in 1924, and the house stood vacant for a time. A few years later, John A. Wheeler, formerly President of Wheeler-Blaney Company, came to live in the house. In the past thirty years a number of people have lived at 629, including in the late 'fifties and 'sixties, the family of the present occupant, Mrs. Pauline Moll.
1890 map does not show
Kalamazoo County Tax Rolls:
1900 Mrs. E. S. Rankin Rev. Plat 16; E 50' of N 5/8 of B 3000
Kalamazoo City Directory:
1891 Edmond S. Rankin 703 W. South (former address) Bronson & Rankin dry goods
1893-1897 same but add Guy W.; Miss Lizzie; Miss Pearl, students
1899 Edmond S. Rankin E. S. Rankin Ins. Agency, fire, life, and accident
Dec. 14, 1901, Mrs. Elizabeth Rankin dies; Oct. 10, 1903, Edmond Rankin, 43, m. Emma Guillote, 29 of Saginaw, Michigan at 504 South St., Guy R., witness
1904 Edmond S. Rankin, General Agent for Fire, Life, Accident, Liability, Fidelity, Steam Boiler, Plate Glass Insurance.
1905 same, but only Guy boards
1907 same, but no Guy
1913 Edmond S. Rankin (Emma G.) Pres. E. S. Rankin Agency (same ins. as 1912)
1917 same but add V-P and Secy of King Paper Co. (A.L. Pratt, Pres.)
1922 -24 same, but King Paper now subdivision of Allied Paper no mention of Rankin
1926 vacant, no Rankins listed in town
1927 John A. Wheeler (formerly Pres. of Wheeler-Blaney); John F.; Emma C.; Mary
1929 same, but no John F. Wheeler
1931-1935 John A. Wheeler (Johanna); sometimes Mary or John F.
1937 John A. Wheeler; Mary G. Wheeler
1939 Mary A. Wheeler, teacher
1942-1955 Elizabeth Barnard
1957 Glynn Hooker, Melvin Dann
1958 Fielding Finch; Harry Moll
1959 Harry Moll; Phillip Germann
1960-1964 Harry Moll
1971 Mrs. Pauline Moll
State Population Census Rolls:
1894 Edmond S. Rankin, 38, dry goods dealer, b. Penn.; Kate J., 40, wife, b. Mich; Eliza W., 20, stepdaughter, b. Mich.; father b. England; Pearl, 17, step-daughter, b. Mich.; in school; Guy W. 15, stepson, b. Mich., in school; Albert H. Shelmire, 52, commercial traveler, b. Mich.; Alice M. Shelmire, 44, wife, b. NY
This report was converted from a typewritten document to a digital text document in September 2004. Other than punctuation and spelling corrections, and the addition of BOLD type site address and names, no changes were made. Minor formatting changes were made for use on this website, but the text was not altered. Original survey dated 1973.